A few weeks ago my wife and I vacationed on the beautiful island of Oahu. I specifically use the word “beautiful” because when you’re in Hawaii, you can’t help but notice how stinking picturesque it is there. While I was there, I had this ongoing epiphany about every five minutes, where I would turn to my wife and say “Can you believe it!? We’re in Hawaii! Who else in the world is experiencing this beauty!?” Then she would turn to me and say “Well, everyone else on the beach right now.” I guess that was true
I’ve been a fan of the “island life” since our honeymoon two years ago in the Caribbean. I absolutely love the tropics—the water, the wildlife, and the people are simply amazing. It literally is paradise. One evening on our vacation we decided to attend a very authentic luau. Okay, well it was specifically for tourists, but still, it felt pretty authentic. During the evening, our luau guide taught us something. He told us that in Hawaii, there is a presence, an attitude, a way of dealing with life called the “Hang Loose Spirit.” Undoubtedly, most of us have seen the “Hang loose sign,” (very similar to the Rock N Roll hand gesture), shaken from side to side. Hang loose promotes a sense of belonging. It is a welcoming gesture to be who you are and to not get too uptight about life. In the Caribbean it was the saying “No pressure, no problem.” In Hawaii, it was hang loose.
I like the idea of being calm and chill in life. No pressure. No worries. No need to try and impress anyone. Just hang loose. It made me think about how often I live more to please others, and how I still find myself fearing rejection. I tend to live with umpteen amounts of pressure and anxiety. I don’t find the hang loose spirit in my life. I find the super-uptight-very tense-spirit instead. And truth be told: that is not how I want to live.
Above my toilet, next to the latest copy of National Geographic and the Handbook for Ministers Wives (Yep, a handbook) is a book entitled Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. It’s a small book, almost like it was made for the sole purpose of bathroom literature. Nonetheless, it’s a great read. It’s sort of like taking the concept of “Hang Loose” and writing a book about how it applies in everyday life. As you read the book, you start to realize that many of the things that cause us stress and pain are the very things that really don’t matter. The guy, who cuts you off on the freeway, although he may be a bad driver, is not worth get upset about. Choose to hang loose. The spilling of the coffee all over your white shirt; sleeping through your alarm clock; even the words of a friend that come over as harsh and bitter, do not forever alter the course of your life…you just need to hang loose.
I was looking through my journal the other day and I found a page where I had written “Don’t turn molehills into mountains.” Don’t let the little things in life, alter the big picture things. In John 16:33 Jesus says “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” Jesus reminds us that life will never be easy and never be without frustration and pain. However, He has already achieved the ultimate victory through the cross. Perhaps the cross not only allows us to be victorious over sin and grant us eternal life, but also gives us the ability to hang loose. It creates a different perspective on life. I can spend my time, worrying and fretting over the most infinitesimal detail that goes awry. Or, I can accept life for what it is. I can choose to hang loose, no matter what comes my way.
There is power in a choice. We can choose to take a little piece of paradise and carry it with us. We can Hang Loose.